car sales

The motor vehicle and retail industry made up over a fifth of the entire small and medium enterprise (SME) sector in Malta in 2020, with the sector’s 650 business units with a staff complement of between 10 and 249 making up the single largest constituent of the country’s 3,083 SMEs.

Figures emerging from the latest National Statistics Office (NSO) release show the sector also includes almost a fifth of all of Malta’s active business units.

The wholesale and retail trade and repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles accounts for 18.7 per cent of all active business units in Malta, which are defined as businesses that had either turnover or employment at any time during the reference period.

This places it far ahead of the professional, scientific and technical activities sector (13 per cent) and the construction sector (9.7 per cent), which were the second and third placed sectors in terms of the number of active business units.

All three are sectors characterised by a large number of self-employed operators and small partnerships.

In fact, the motor vehicle and retail sector includes 7,027 units with sole or partnered ownership.

Sole proprietors and partnerships meanwhile account for 4,721 units in the professional, scientific and technical activities sector, and 4,038 in the construction sector.

The motor vehicle and retail sector again accounts for the largest number of active business units when looking at limited liability and public limited companies, with a figure of 2,875.

Here, however, financial and insurance activities make up the second highest number of active business units, standing at 2,258, with the professional, scientific and technical services sector accounting for 2,182.

The fourth largest number of active limited liability and public limited business units is found in the real estate industry, with 1,482 such units, while construction is fifth with 1,126 units.

A look at the number of employees however reveals that most units in the motor vehicles, professional services, and construction sectors have a low number of employees, with the total number of units having between zero and nine employees (defined as micro enterprises) standing at 9,300, 6,609, and 4,985 respectively.

Perhaps surprisingly, while being the sector with the largest number of micro enterprises by far, the motor vehicle and retail sector also accounts for the highest number of small (549) and medium (101) enterprises.

Together, the SMEs active in the motor and retail industry make up 21.1 per cent of all SMEs in the country.

Active business units in Malta for 2020

Altogether, in 2020 there were 53,348 active business units in Malta, an increase of 4.6 per cent, or 2,345 active business units, over the previous year.

In 2020, 69 per cent of the active business units were sole proprietors and partnerships, 28.6 per cent were limited liability companies or public limited liability companies, while 2.3 per cent were non-profit organisations, cooperatives, corporations, branches or joint ventures.

Active business units in 2020 (NSO 139/2021)

The number of new registrations within the active business population decreased by 27 per cent while the deregistrations increased by 27 per cent over 2019.

Newly registered and deregistered business units within active business population (NSO 139/2021)

Compared to the situation a year earlier, micro business units employing between 0 and 9 persons increased by 4.9 per cent. Large business units employing more than 250 persons increased by 4.3 per cent while small business units employing between 10 and 49 persons increased by 0.3 per cent. Medium-sized business units employing between 50 and 249 persons decreased by 1.0 per cent.

There were 16,167 employers in Malta in 2020, a decrease of 0.2 per cent over the previous year.


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